From Fukui, with Love

The geekiest way to go sightseeing

Posted by in Mike's blog

There was a day last fall when the way we see the world around us totally changed.  Places that once were uninteresting became much anticipated attractions.  We started seeking out nooks and crannies in our city that other people couldn’t care less about.  We began to go for long drives with the kids (while they nap) with no set destination, far into the mountains, through tiny villages, and often in circles. Mary and I got involved in a little game called Ingress. Except it’s not little.  There were more than 500 000 active…read more

A vine bridge in the middle of nowhere

Posted by in Mike's blog

Today we ventured far, far away from our normal surroundings and routine. Every Sunday is the same for us.  We wake up, clean, make breakfast, prepare a grocery list, review our budget, go grocery shopping, fill our car with gas, make lunch, try and fail at naptime for the kids, then go to church. Every Tuesday my Japanese teacher asks me what we did on Sunday…and I always have the same response.  We realised this morning that we haven’t done anything different for almost 3 months – so instead of…read more

No scandals at Eiheiji temple

Posted by in Mike's blog

Fukui has two main tourist attractions: Tojinbo cliffs and Eiheiji temple.  We hadn’t been to Eiheiji before, so we went with Bubbe before the daily rain started and when the leaves were still nice. This temple is pretty huge.  It’s both a lucrative tourist moneymaker and a fully functional buddhist temple.  Monks live, train and worship there.  On our way in we passed a funeral procession.  We got a map and pamphlet full of rules that we adhered to, including but not limited to no shoes anywhere (we had to…read more

Ono in the fall

Posted by in Mike's blog

We took a short trip to Ono city in Fukui prefecture’s eastern mountains.  My mom (Bubbe) wanted to see a real Japanese castle, and Ono is supposed to be very nice at this time of year. Ono city is on a flat piece of land surrounded by mountains, with one lonely mountain in the middle.  People who have long since passed decided to build a castle on that lonely mountain.  It was a good strategy at the time, but that didn’t prevent the castle from being burnt down a few…read more

Choosing a birth centre in Japan

Posted by in Mary's blog, Mike's blog

When we travel, we spend time meticulously pouring over hotel/ryokan reviews so that we can make informed decisions about where we spend our vacation time.  To our surprise, finding a place to give birth has been kind of similar, except instead of comparing amenities like onsens and breakfast, we have been comparing medical interventions and child care philosophies… The standard stay at a birth centre here is around 1 week, which in contrast to the 20 hours we spent at Grand River Hospital in Kitchener when the Bunny was born is…read more

How radioactive is Fukui?

Posted by in Mike's blog

Remember that time in 2011 when the world’s eyes turned to Japan after the great Tohoku earthquake and tsunami and the subsequent nuclear crisis in Fukushima prefecture?  Of course you do, everybody does. We flew to Japan around 5 months after the disaster(s), but we didn’t do so without being aware of the impact that they had on this place.  After a few minutes of research we were fairly certain that Fukui is just TOO FAR to have been directly affected by any of the airborne fallout from the nuclear…read more

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The dirty, dirty case of the missing wedding band

Posted by in Mike's blog

I misplaced my wedding band in a rice field three weeks ago while I was participating in a mud volleyball tournament.  Today, with the help of my wonderful wife, I found it.  The odds were against us, and we had to overcome several obstacles along the way.  Here’s how it happened: A tournament of champions? I joined a team of English teachers in the annual mud volleyball tournament that takes place in Asahi town (part of Echizen-cho) every autumn.  As far as we knew, we were the first team of…read more

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Camping for free at Kadohara orchards in Ono

Posted by in Mike's blog

It was a Saturday morning.  The house was clean, the errands that mattered (that we remembered) were done, and it was a gorgeous sunny day outside.  What were we to do!? Somehow, Ono was the answer. We had read about a free campsite east of Ono city (a place we had never been) called “the watering hole”.  Obviously this wasn’t the campsite’s real name, so any research we were able to conduct before leaving was limited to the experiences of people who used this name.  We have since discovered that…read more

How we spoiled all future Canada Days in Mikuni

Posted by in Mary's blog

Last Saturday we did what everyone in Fukui and surrounding prefectures did. We were among the hordes of people who travelled to Mikuni to take part in the fireworks festival. About 100,000 people gathered on the shore of the Sea of Japan in the small city of Mikuni. Mikuni’s fireworks festival is said to have the best fireworks display in the entire Hokuriku region. We arrived in Mikuni at around 3:30PM. The fireworks were set to start at 7:30PM and last one hour, but because of the popularity of this…read more

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All the cool kids swim at Mizushima beach

Posted by in Mike's blog

What does your perfect beach look like? Island location?  No man-made structures?  Soft sand?  Calm, crystal-clear water?  Natural shade?  Litter-free?  Secluded?  We aren’t picky beach-goers, at least we may not have been until we spent the day at Mizushima, which happens to have all of the things I described above (except for the secluded part…this IS Japan after all). Most of the beaches we have spent time at around were conquered by capitalists long ago.  In Ostia (near Rome) we saw every possible square metre of beachfront property was owned…read more